The Angus Reid polling firm surveyed more than 1,000 Canadians about their attitudes toward the opposition parties and found simmering trouble for Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion and his party.
More respondents – 37 per cent – thought NDP Leader Jack Layton would be a good prime minister, compared with just 25 per cent who preferred Dion.
On the issue that was supposed to be Dion's strength, green scarves and all, we find dismal numbers:
When people were asked to name the top environmental party, 67 per cent chose the Green party, 45 per cent chose the NDP, while just 22 per cent said the Liberals were the best on the environment.
People haven't forgot the past:
Even the old ethics cloud hasn't cleared – New Democrats were seen as honest and ethical by 45 per cent of respondents, while only 24 per cent said they would characterize Liberals that way. Only 28 per cent said the Liberal party had done enough to regain the trust of Canadians after the sponsorship scandal of Jean Chrétien's years in power.
Still, and perhaps paradoxically, more people are considering voting Liberal than for the Greens or the NDP, according to the poll.
Those who would definitely or probably vote Liberal total 34 per cent, while only 30 per cent said they would definitely or probably vote NDP. For the Greens, that figure was 25 per cent. The Greens netted only about 5 per cent of the popular vote in the last election
I'm of the mindset that you admit the failings, and through that admission you move forward in a realistic way. With that in mind, my criticisms of Dion aren't a damnation, more a wake up call. Many people argue that Dion is doing relatively well, when compared with other newly elected opposition leaders. I would counter, who was the last Liberal leader to lag FAR behind the NDP leader?
The environment numbers might be a reflection of past Liberal failures. However, if that is the case, it doesn't bode well for Dion, since he was Environment Minister in the past Liberal government. It will be very hard for Dion to distance himself from the legacy, and that circumstance allows for easy criticism from other parties. The poor showing also means that Dion needs other issues to make a mark, to date the environment has been his central, defining issue. The one caveat, the Greens have tremendous credibility on the environment, which means May's endorsement could prove incredibly useful.
Dion is the francophone from Quebec, who ran on the environment. The fact that Dion scores so poorly, the Liberals appear to be in apathetic disarray in Quebec, coupled with the low showing on the environment, paints a pessimistic picture. Right now, the Liberals greatest asset is Harper's failure, which implies we don't control our own destiny. While elections are often referendums on the government, I think that view is too convenient, it allows for a resignation of our own circumstance. Given the government's problems, I believe the Liberals should be doing much better, and the above findings serve as further evidence, that there are serious drags on support.